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Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology

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  • 10/29/12--08:44: Ad of the Day: FEMA
  • As Hurricane Sandy proves once again, people are notoriously reluctant to deal with natural catastrophes until they're literally on their doorstep. There's stark data behind this: 91 percent of Americans believe it's important to be prepared for emergencies, but only 58 percent of households have taken any steps at all to prepare.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency tries every year to improve those statistics through ad campaigns urging people to plan for the worst, not just hope for the best. The PSAs are important, but often creatively underwhelming—sometimes too dull, sometimes too esoteric. This year, Leo Burnett in Chicago delivered the excellent 60-second spot below, featuring the slogan "Today is the day before"—reminding viewers that you never know when a cataclysmic disaster will strike (even if, in the case of a hurricane, you have some advance warning). It could always be tomorrow, so you should prepare today.

    The TV spot deals not with a hurricane but with an earthquake—the Loma Prieta earthquake, which hit the Bay Area on Oct. 17, 1989. The ad shows stylized (and fictional) footage of the day before that momentous day, and indeed, it appears just like any other day. Using a split screen, the spot also shows today, and the inference is clear. Though things are quiet, you could be hours away from an emergency for which you might not have the supplies or the plan to help—potentially even save—yourself and your loved ones.

    Scare tactics only get you so far. This spot commands attention with its compelling setup and great details. If nothing else, it's fun to see what a difference 23 years makes—in the city skyline, in fashion, in how people do something as simple as read a book. It pulls you in, and sets you up for the message: that one thing most assuredly hasn't changed in those 23 years. You need to be ready for history to repeat itself.

    The spot points to the website ready.gov/today, which has a fascinating map of the U.S., with each state emblazoned with a date. Each of those dates, it turns out, is the day before some disaster—you can click on each one to read about it. The site gives a more palpable sense of the dangers we face, and expands the message well beyond the Bay Area.

    The TV spot broke in September as part of National Preparedness Month. How many heeded its advice ahead of Hurricane Sandy is, of course, unknown. But there are surely many people today who still wish it was the day before.

    Client/Campaign: FEMA, "Ready" Campaign
    Spot: "Today Is The Day Before"
    Agency: Leo Burnett Chicago
    EVP, Chief Creative Officer: Susan Credle
    VP, Creative Director: Ryan Wagman
    VP, Creative Art Director: Nuno Ferreira
    Associate Creative Director: Guybrush Taylor
    Copywriter: Ryan Wagman
    VP, Executive Producer: Rob Allen
    EVP, Account Director: Bob Raidt
    VP, Account Director: Rich Pieczynski
    Senior Account Executive: Danielle Wilburn
    Account Executive: Christine Zinker
    Production Company: Motion Theory
    Director: Guillaume de Fontenay
    Director of Photography: John Houtman
    Line Producer: Rob Newman
    Editing House: Mirada
    Editor: Erik Barnes
    Producer: Leighton Greer
    Music Studio: Big Foote Music + Sound
    Composer: Darren Solomon
    Producer: Ray Foote
    Audio Mix: Static Studios
    Mixer: Steven Vandeven
    Radio Production: Static Studios
    Engineer: Steven Vandeven
    Studio: Static Studios
    Print Production Studio: Mundocom

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    Robert Downey Jr. makes his North American TV commercial debut in this new 72andSunny spot for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, directed by none other than Guy Ritchie. But the guy getting most of the love for his cameo is FPSRussia, aka Kyle Myers, host of those insane firearms videos on YouTube. iJustine also appears in the clip, which certainly makes the most of its web celebs. ("Where's Joseph Jaffe?" was the salient question just posted to me by David Griner.) French actor Omar Sy appears as well—along with many other folks we don't recognize. Feel free to help us out. FPSRussia got involved with Black Ops 2 in the spring, when he posted a video review (posted after the jump) of the futuristic Quadrotor weapon, available in the new game. The latest spot continues the Black Ops tradition of flashy ads, which have included Kobe Bryant and Burger Man, and that crazy zombie spot.

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  • 10/30/12--01:57: The Spot: TV's Best Friend
  • IDEA: Cookies and milk. A prom queen and her limo. A slow-running teenager and a horror-movie monster. Some things were meant to be together. You can add Zeebox and your TV to that list, says a new campaign from Mother for the second-screen app, which is jumping from the U.K. to the U.S. via partnerships with NBC and Comcast (and soon HBO, Cinemax and Viacom). Rather than squeeze in product demos, agency and client figured the entertainment app deserved ads that were themselves entertaining. Six new spots, each cut into 15-, 20- and 30-second executions, present Zeebox simply as something that makes TV more awesome than it already is— through amusing metaphors showing other great partnerships, from the familiar to the obscure. "We were given a lot of creative license to express this idea that with TV plus Zeebox, one plus one equals three. When they come together, something even more magical happens," said agency mother (aka account leader) Krystle Loyland. The ads are pretty magical, too— quirky, witty, sure-footed, and destined to be cult favorites.

    COPYWRITING: The agency wrote hundreds of scripts. Along with the three mentioned above, the other three produced spots pair a hot dog and "fancy French mustard"; a Star Trek-like space captain and a "learned alien first officer"; and, most oddly, a ship in a bottle and a cage of seagulls.

    "We had a mix of more obscure ones, and some straighter ones," said art director Dave Tomkins. "It came down to which ones were making us laugh more." The ads are frontloaded with the pitch, which says, on screen and in voiceover: "Zeebox is the free app that makes watching TV even better." The metaphor is introduced next, and the cutaways show it in action. The spots close with the product name and logo, and customized end lines referring back to the ad's plot.

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Directors Ben Hurst and Dave Thomas (known as Ben/Dave) of Fueld Films shot two spots a day over three days. The ads exist in a bright, colorful, theatrical surreality that's lighthearted and imaginary while often veering into the absurd. "They have the obviously fake [painted] backgrounds and go into an abstract sort of space," said Tomkins. "People immediately realize we're in metaphor land, that we're not selling star captains or ray guns." The aesthetic is simple. Mother's art department built props as needed on the fly. There were some hiccups, including three stuffed seagulls that are still stuck in customs somewhere.

    TALENT: "You're used to going out to L.A. and seeing the same types of people," said copywriter Jordan Chouteau. "This was a really fresh look at some great American faces that you don't always see in commercials." Chouteau herself was cast in one spot as the horror-movie monster. "She was writing lines with that really weird monster head on," said Tomkins. Chouteau added: "My boyfriend actually said that the 'Grrr' sounds very feminine. I was a little offended." Robert-Allan Arno did the voiceovers. He has a fluid, understandable voice and added some subtle color to his line readings while remaining matter of fact. The actor in the cookie spot was called on to swim in a large pool of milk-like liquid. "He was dying to get into the pool, which was really amazing," said Tomkins. "It's not in the final spot, but we actually got him to dive under that milk, or corn starch, and come up with a big smile on his face. It was pretty fun."

    SOUND: Michael Coffman, a music guy at Mother, wrote tracks for all the cutaways during the shoot, not after. "That was really important," said Tomkins. "He was able to feed in, for example, on the prom spot, some lyrics and the music, so that the girl on set could actually sing along to the music. That was a massive advantage to us creatively."

    MEDIA: The spots will get lots of exposure across media channels owned by the partner companies, beginning with NBC and Comcast.


    Client: Zeebox

    Agency: Mother, New York
    Art Director: Dave Tomkins
    Copywriter: Jordan Chouteau
    Strategist: Phil Graham
    Mother: Krystle Loyland
    Producer: Bronwen Lonsdale

    Production Company: Fueld Films
    Director: Ben/Dave
    DP: Munn Powell
    Executive Producers: Brady Anderton & Summer Finley
    Line Producer: Barry Heaps
    Costume & Wardrobe Design: Lee Hunsaker
    Production Designer: Chris Stull
    Hair/Makeup: Meredith Johns

    Editorial Company: Spotwelders
    Editors: Dahkil Hausif & Livio Sanchez

    Animation & Post-Production Company: Tchya (VFX Company)
    Executive Producer: Joanne Ferraro (EP, Spotwelders), Jen Sienkwicz (EP, Tchya)
    Post Producer: Jamie Nagler (Producer, Spotwelders)
    VFX Supervisor/Head of CG: Peter Amante

    Final Grade & Finishing: Company 3
    Colorist: Rob Sciarratta

    Music Production: Mother New York, Asche & Spencer Music
    TV Mix: Big Yellow Duck
    Sound Design: Big Yellow Duck

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  • 10/30/12--07:55: Ad of the Day: Arby's
  • Sleep easy, America. Bo Dietl is on the case. What case, you say? The truth about your sandwich meat.

    It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. Dietl, former NYPD detective, current private investigator and professional blowhard, is the man to tell cold, hard truths. And the cold, hard truth about your cold cuts is that you should be eating Arby's. Because Arby's slices its lunch meat fresh in the store daily before putting it on your sandwich. Because Subway does no such thing. And because Arby's is paying Dietl a lot of money to tell you that truth. Seriously, though, he loves Arby's, too. Because it's fresh sliced roast beef is delicious. At least, it was the first time he ate it, at an Arby's in California back in 1969, when all the other boomers were eating mushrooms at Woodstock in New York.

    Earlier this month, Dietl appeared in a 30-second Arby's spot, cracking wise outside a Subway lunch-meat slicing facility somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Today, he's back in this longer-form version of the argument, a five-minute video directed by Larry Charles, who also directed such heavy-hitting Sacha Baron Cohen exposés as Borat, Bruno and The Dictator. In the new Arby's clip, Dietl delivers more Dietl antics, reminiscing about his days as a cop, waxing poetic about America, and grilling a former Subway employee about the lack of in-store slicing. He also takes a couple of not-quite-bare-knuckle swings at Arby's competitor, like shoving a meat slicer into the drive-through window of a Subway, to the amusement the employee on the other side, who otherwise doesn't seem to care in the least.

    Perhaps most insightful are Dietl's man-on-the-street interviews with the regular folk who foolishly assume Subway's meats are sliced "in the back" of each store. In that montage, the brand's spokesman gets out of the way of what's a fairly hard-hitting message, aimed at undermining Subway's core "Eat fresh" motto.

    Overall, the video doesn't reveal much about the evils of Subway's long-distance meat craft, other than it is long distance. Nonetheless, Dietl's gruff charm conveys the sense that the brand is having fun with the pot shots, even if it's not really a good-natured ribbing. Entertaining as it may be, though, it doesn't necessarily feel all that fresh.

    Client: Arby's
    Agency: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Boulder, Colo.
    Worldwide Chief Creative Officer: Rob Reilly
    Executive Creative Director: Alex Burnard
    Creative Directors: Scot Kaplan, Vladislav Ivangorodsky, James Maravetz
    Associate Creative Director: Mark Schruntek
    Director of Video Production: Chad Hopenwasser
    Executive Integrated Producer: Lisa Effress
    Junior Producer: Kelli Espinoza
    Live Action Production Company: Independent Media
    Director: Larry Charles
    Executive Producer: Susanne Preissler
    Line Producers: Lindsay Skutch, Beth Aranda-Hodzic
    Post Production: Method NY
    Executive Producers: Robert Owens, Angela Lupo
    Producer: Matthew Engel
    Lead Compositor: Aidan Thomas
    VFX Supervisor: Gil Baron
    Set Supervisor: Rob Hodgson
    Compositors: Sean Wilson, Marty Taylor, Ian Holland, Matt Welch
    Digital Matte Painter: Marc Samson
    Editorial Company: Cut + Run
    Editor: Jay Nelson
    Executive Producer: Melati Pohan
    Assistant Editor: Ben Jones
    Food Shoot Production Company: Assembly Films
    Director: Kevan Bean
    Executive Producer: Gloria Colangelo
    Line Producer: Pete Dever
    Production Supervisor: Kerri Johnson
    Executive Integrated Music Producer: Caitlin Rocklen
    Sound Mixer Company: Lime Studios & Beacon Street Studios
    Sound Design: Jeremy Brill
    Music Supervisor: Chip Herter
    Visual Effects Company: Method Design
    Creative Directors: Mike Sausa, Steve Viola
    Producer: Dan Masciarelli
    Coordinator: Mary Melendez
    2D Artists: Bernard Crosland, Jessica Engles, Alex Gibbs
    3D Artists: Omid Ensafi, Pouyan Navid, Jamie Sawyer
    Content VP Group Account Director: Scot Beck
    Content Account Director: Justin Marciani
    Content Supervisor: Jessica Martin
    Content Manager: Julie Pfleger
    Assistant Content Manager: Sandy Florez
    Business Affairs: Natalie Greenman
    Cognitive Anthropologist: Erica David

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    Megan Fox … one of the greatest scientific minds of our time? Seems unlikely, which is the whole joke of the actress's new commercial for Acer laptops. In the spot, by Mother in London, Acer's Aspire 57 helps Fox explore her secret passion for marine biology and facilitate communication between humans and dolphins. Most folks, of course, would expect the uber-babe to do the breast stroke in a thong bikini in the ad's laboratory tank rather than hang out with the nerdy researchers and use her noggin to expand the frontiers of science. At 90 seconds, the so-so setup is stretched too far, and there's little comedy here. Even the "punch line" of a dolphin asking for a hug seems a little soggy. Acer's earlier Kiefer Sutherland spot was more successful because he played against type (he baked cupcakes) while at the same time reinforcing his Jack Bauer tough-guy image (he blew stuff up). Fox's ad was deflating, because I expected an over-the-top payoff with Megan getting her legs torn off by cackling dolphins or using her chatty new pals to conquer the world. Perhaps Acer will fare better with its next celebrity fish-out-of-water story. (Yes, I know they're mammals, brainiacs.)

    Via Copyranter.

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    Slayer fans rejoice! (Or don't.) Your favorite band is now scoring Google commercials.

    The tech company shows its fangs this Halloween with the short-and-sweet 30-second spot below for its Chromebook laptop, set to the 1986 song "Raining Blood" by the iconic thrash-metal band. There's really nothing much to the commercial—not that that's a bad thing. The song sets the groove, as big, blocky, multicolored text delivers a series of Halloween-themed copy lines about the low-priced machine. "For little devils," it begins. "For scaring off viruses. For spooky-fast startup." And so on. "For a fun size" is particularly playful, as the type suddenly shrinks to Halloween-candy-bar dimensions.

    The spot wraps with a few product shots and the tagline: "For everyone."

    Some might balk at the ad's simplicity and low production values. But in some ways, the low-budget approach simply reinforces the product message—just because it's cheap doesn't mean it can't be fun.

    Two other spots in the series are somewhat less effective. Another :30, titled "For Goodbye to All That," has essentially the same setup—except it's set to Wagner's "Ride Of The Valkyries" and its copy is more generic, outlining typical laptop headaches from which Chromebook will free you. There's also a :60 anthem, featuring pithy text about who and what the laptop is "for" superimposed over lots of home-movie footage. It's a bit of a shaggy spot, with a soundtrack, "Negative Thinking" by Australian punk band the Death Set, that adds plenty of energy but doesn't quite give the ad the shape it needs.

    Are these ads "for everyone"? Maybe not. But the egalitarian theme shines through in all of them. A treat, rather than a trick, for this Halloween.

    Client: Google Chromebook
    Campaign: "For Everyone"
    Agency: Google Creative Lab
    Production Company: Greenpoint Pictures
    Director: Jacob Lincoln

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    Leading up to Halloween, AT&T and BBDO New York have been running a campaign called "Ghostbombing," in which ghosts, goblins and ghouls engage in a little freaky photobombing to promote the HTC OneX mobile device. Now, with the big day upon us, the telecom has ghostbombed one of its recent TV commercials, "Whiz Bang," by inserting all sorts of spooky creatures into the quick-cut footage. You'll probably need to rewind this one a few times to catch everything. And speaking of BBDO and Halloween, you might also want to check out the agency's fright-night Snickers spot, "Horseless Headsman," which we posted a few weeks back.

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    Yes, yes, my precious! Air New Zealand and WETA Workshop soar with this Hobbit tie-in—a real in-flight safety video. Characters from J.R.R. Tolkien demonstrate what to do in the case of an emergency and put a fanciful Middle-earth spin on donning oxygen masks, inflating life vests and pointing the way to the exits. This reminds me a bit of Virgin America's recent flight of fantasy, but it's less cluttered and more engaging. Here, the plane's filled by a pointy-eared lot, some with protruding fangs, leathery skin and razor claws, but they're still less freakish than former Air NZ pitchman Richard Simmons. And I'll take hobbits in the cabin over gremlins on the wing any day. Peter Jackson, who directed the upcoming movie, makes a cameo, sans makeup, at the 1:40 mark—though with his broad build, unkempt mane and creeping facial hair, he fits right in.

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    This week, Hurricane Sandy and Halloween vied for our attention, brands got into heavy metal, and a famous former NYPD detective wants to make sure you know what you're dealing with in that Subway sandwich. 

    Many of the hundreds of TV commercials that air each day are just blips on the radar, having little impact on the psyche of the American consumer, who is constantly bombarded by advertising messages.

    These aren't those commercials.

    Adweek and AdFreak have brought together the most innovative and well-executed spots of the week, commercials that will make you laugh, smile, cry, think—and maybe buy.

    Video Gallery: Top 10 Commercials, Oct. 26-Nov. 2

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    Switzerland's appeal as a vacation destination is timeless. As proof, the nation's tourism authority springs "Clocks" on the masses. Spillman/Felser/Leo Burnett's film finds Sebi and Paul, a pair of bearded locals introduced earlier in the campaign, on a mission to remove or disable every timepiece in their wintery homeland to facilitate relaxing holidays for stressed-out travelers. Since this is Switzerland, removing clocks to create a calming environment feels logical and unforced. The spot offers ticks, of a sort, but thankfully, not a single ant, unlike last year's spot with weirdo Swiss weather prophet Martin Horat. Yech! Here, there's a cute joke involving a rooster, a creature famed for shattering the peace at a certain time every day. And we're treated to lots of great visuals, like Sebi and Paul lugging a grandfather clock though the snow and depositing it on a horse-drawn cart, that make watching "Clocks" time well spent.

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    Some readers felt we were being premature when we announced the death of dubstep at the hands of advertising earlier this year. But now you're going to wish we'd been right. Nintendo has released this 60-second spot for the new Wii U gaming console, and while the messaging is decent enough, the soundtrack is one of the most annoying in commercial history. A high-pitched dubstep screech builds to a shrillness of dentistry proportions while you're flashing from one family-friendly Wii U scenario to the next. By the end, I'm not sure I want a Wii U, but I'm damn positive I want that minute of my life back. According to YouTube and forum comments, gamers are more upset about Nintendo's focus on courting the Netflix-watching masses instead of getting back to its roots as the leading platform for gaming. Video-game industry types also wonder if Nintendo is making it clear enough that the Wii U is an entirely new console, priced at $300, and not merely a fancy controller upgrade for the Wii. Those are valid concerns, but for now, I'd settle for an ad that doesn't punish me for watching it.

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    "I think I'll put the pain aside." That's one of several evocative lines in Power Bar's new ads in support of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon—a race, still scheduled for this Sunday, that's become a major point of controversy in a city still reeling from the worst storm it's ever suffered. Night Agency wrote, filmed and edited the spots before the storm, yet the specter of Hurricane Sandy is everywhere. The first spot opens on dark, misty skies, with peals of thunder echoing. And then, almost immediately, there's defiance. "I think I'll go for a run today," says the first of many runners in voiceover. The gritty footage in both spots is as much about the city as the runners—fittingly for such a iconic race. And the Power Bar tagline, which isn't new, takes on an inspirational quality now. "You're stronger than you think," it says. The spots won't change the minds of those opposed to running the race on schedule, but they may well be quietly appreciated by those who see carrying on as a matter of pride. Second spot and credits after the jump.

    UPDATE: The marathon has been canceled for Sunday.

    Client: Power Bar
    Agency: Night Agency
    Director/Editor: Ryan Lawrence

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    Dewar's is trying to convince young drinkers that Scotch whiskey isn't just a drink for your irrationally angry grandfather. It's also a drink for irrationally angry hot English women with Scottish accents! Dewar's got Opperman Weiss to make some ads with English actress Claire Forlani (aka Lauren Hunter from NCIS: Los Angeles). The tagline "Are you ready to take life seriously?" Coming from her, it almost sounds like a threat. I guess they're implying that Dewar's is for serious, grown-ass adult drinkers, which has darker implications. So far they're missing the self-awareness and fun of ads by rivals like Jameson. We'll see if they pick it up in future ads.

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    "Swimming pools are filled with people. Some you know. Some you don't. And every once in a while you see something that maybe you shouldn't. That’s why swimming pools are a little like Facebook." —Facebook

    First, famously, chairs were like Facebook. Now, some other things are like Facebook, according to Facebook's own feed. Swimming pools, Halloween and cakes are like Facebook, according to three photos the company posted to its wall last week. (The pool image has more than half a million likes, and the cakes one close to it.) Yes, it seems Wieden + Kennedy has brought back the "Are like Facebook" theme, even though response to the initial ad was mainly negative, with most observers finding it pretentious and/or silly. A snarky Tumbler even sprang up in its wake informing us that "Disney Stormtroopers," "Cardboard bicycles" and "Prison riots" are like Facebook. The parodies are more amusing—and in the case of the Stormtroopers, rather more truthful—than the real thing. If Facebook were a cool challenger brand, having its ads lampooned might not be so bad, because newbies need the exposure and could roll with the punches. Alas, Facebook, an often-controversial company, needs its ads to smooth things over rather than become a source of fresh scorn. To its credit, Facebook has half-embraced the Tumblr, posting a few of the milder images from it on its Facebook page. Still, W+K better cue up Plan B, because it's easier to laugh at, rather than with, the current campaign. If that persists, the agency might not be long for the client's timeline.

    "Birthday cakes are made for people to be together. They give friends a place to gather and celebrate. But too much cake probably isn’t healthy. So birthday cake is a lot like Facebook." —Facebook

    "Halloween gives people a chance to be scary or funny or sexy or, sometimes, a little bit of all three. Halloween lets people express themselves. That is why Halloween is like Facebook." —Facebook

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    Hyundai and its agency, Innocean, are so proud of the Genesis Coupe R-Spec, and so unaware of the concept of a sore winner, that they made four "sympathy card" ads directed at the four cars Hyundai outperformed at recent AMCI track tests. The print ads, with the message "Sorry competition, nothing personal," are running in Automobile Magazine, Car and Driver, Road & Track and Autoweek. Digital versions of the ads, running in iPad magazines, include embedded music. If they really want to be jerks, Diana Trask's "There Has to Be a Loser" would be an excellent song choice. More images below.

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  • 11/05/12--08:42: Ad of the Day: OurTime.org
  • Last we checked in with Errol Morris, he was profiling sports fans whose passion for their teams extended into the afterlife. Now, he has embraced another seemingly grim topic with a potential silver lining—young people's apathy when it comes to voting.

    For this seven-minute video for young-adult advocacy group OurTime.org—a collaboration with CHI & Partners in New York, Moxie Pictures and The New York Times—Morris fired up his Interrotron and interviewed 50 young people in October about why they plan to vote on Tuesday. It's framed as a tongue-in-cheek look at why so many people their age don't vote—reasons that, in the end, come to seem silly or misguided.

    "I've seen a lot of voting videos, and you can't imagine most of them being effective," Morris told the Boston Globe last week. "They usually shame people into voting, or hector or embarrass them into voting." Morris hopes his lighter touch will be more effective.

    In a companion op-ed in the Times, Morris writes: "We are proud when Iraqis and Libyans dodge bombs to vote in their first free elections in decades, and then, when it's our chance, we barely exceed their turnout rates. Often, we do worse. Roughly half of us vote, and the other half don't.

    "It made me wonder: What's stopping us? Do we have reasons not to vote? How can we hear so much about the election, and not participate? If hope isn't doing it, isn't the fear of the other guy winning enough to brave the roads, the long lines?"

    "I'm glad I did it," Morris told the Globe. "You never know if it will have any effect—how do you know?—but I did it in the hopes that it will."

    Client: OurTime.org
    Agency: CHI & Partners, New York
    Director: Errol Morris
    Production Company: Moxie Pictures
    Media Partner: The New York Times

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  • 11/06/12--03:13: The Spot: Can't Buy Me Love
  • IDEA: Rubber fish tossed on a chef's prep station. A skydiver caught by stagehands. A 2-D dog floating through painted pastoral scenes. Full of wires and props, scenery and costume changes, TD Ameritrade's new ads have their insides showing— which is the point. They talk about life, not just money. And life is messy. "I think a lot of humanity is about being flawed. And that's what these ads were. We never tried to make them perfect," said Matt Ashworth, creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Three new :30s, each shot in a single take, are presented as mini plays, with silent characters whose stories are told in voiceovers (by Matt Damon) and illustrated with a whirl of low-fi chaos around them. TD Ameritrade plays a supporting role, providing financial security so these folks can get on with life. "We tried to take complicated financial stuff, simplify it, and act it out in the lives of real people, almost like how fairy tales and fables work," said Ashworth. What emerges are simple, charming set pieces whose handmade framework imparts a kind of transparency or honesty—crucial in a category built on trust.

    COPYWRITING: Two spots deal with retirement—one about a couple who "don't know it yet, but they're going to fall in love" and build a life together; and another about a bus boy who rises to become chef, investing wisely along the way. A third spot, aimed at traders, stars an adrenaline junkie who needs to trust his bank as much as his parachute maker.

    Broadly speaking, the three spots are about family, career and recreation. "We tried not to get down in the weeds but keep it universal," said Ashworth. The copy has a folksy vibe. Each spot wraps with Damon saying financial planning "isn't rocket science. It's just common sense. From TD Ameritrade." A curtain with the brand logo falls, along with a placard offering up to $600 for opening a new account. Stagehands swoop in with two more signs: the phone number and web address.

    ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Feature-film director Brad Silberling shot the ads over four or five days on the Universal lot in Los Angeles. "His take on it was perfect," said creative director John Shachter. "Just do things simply, show the wires, show all the mistakes that happen." Because of the intricate blocking, Silberling would rehearse one ad while filming another. "He talked about the ads being like human Rube Goldberg machines," said Ashworth. "And we tried to do all of it practically. It was like filming a play." Ashworth said the clearly patchedtogether choreography lends a tension that's keeps the viewer engaged. "I think you're kind of holding your breath and hoping it goes OK," he said.

    TALENT: Damon was signed up before the spots were even written. "He's great at storytelling," said Ashworth. "I also think he brings a great intelligence to the work. And he has a strong everyman quality, so you can relate." For the actors, Silberling looked for "silent-film-star faces" that could carry the scenes without dialogue. "We got some really good eyes," said Shachter. "You forget that you can act so much with your eyes."

    SOUND: The creatives wanted an "innocence" to the music that would enhance the fable-like narratives. In the "Marriage" spot, it's literally so—they used a homemade recording of Ashworth's 9-year-old son playing piano. A whistled version of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" plays in the trader spot. Sound design helps frame the often-busy action, telling the eye where to look.

    MEDIA: National broadcast and cable, and online.


    Client: TD Ameritrade
    Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

    Creative Department
    Partners: Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein
    Executive Creative Director: Rick Condos & Hunter Hindman
    Creative Director: Matt Ashworth & John Shachter

    Production Department
    Executive Broadcast Producer: Tod Puckett
    Broadcast Producer: MJ Otto

    Account Services Department
    Account Director: Katie Rafferty
    Account Manager: Jenna Lubin
    Operations Director: Jeff Chunn
    Operations Manager: Julie Whitecotton

    Business Affairs
    Business Affairs Manager: Judy Ybarra

    Outside Vendors
    Production Company: Pony Show Entertainment
    Director: Brad Silberling
    Director of Photography: Philippe Rousselot
    Executive producer: Susan Kirson & Jeffrey Frankel
    Line Producer: Fern Martin
    Editing House: Spotwelders
    Editor: Haines Hall
    Producer: Carolina Wallace
    VFX House: Kilt Studios
    Producer: Mathew McManus

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    Here's a fun trailer for a romantic comedy about two lost souls (bloggers, obviously) who reconnect in an airport … with a twist ending. Spoiler alert: Because love is a lot like hurtling headfirst into a giant stainless steel fridge. Also because there's a strong market for anti-rom-com schadenfreude. Especially when the convincing rom-com setup ends in classic slapstick pratfalls. Also because it made you laugh, now come on, buy at Sears. From mcgarrybowen in Chicago. It's a follow-up to the hugely popular beach commercial from the summer. Full credits after the jump.

    Agency: Mcgarrybowen, Chicago
    Chief Creative Officer: Ned Crowley
    Group Creative Director, Art Director: Kevin Thoem
    Group Creative Director, Copywriter: Lee Remias
    Director of Production: Lisa Burke Snyder
    Executive Producer: Marianne Newton
    Production Coordinator: Julia Pepe
    Music Producers: Marisa Wasser, Morgan Thoryk, Brandy Ricker

    Production Company: Supply & Demand Integrated
    Director: Matt Lenski
    Founder, Managing Partner: Tim Case
    President, Managing Partner: Charles Salice
    Executive Producer, Partner: Kira Carstensen
    Head of Production: Alexis Kaplan
    Line Producer: Rita Le Roux

    Client: Sears
    Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Home Appliances: Eddie Combs
    Director of Marketing Strategy, Home Appliances: Jason Ward
    Vice President, Sears Integrated Marketing: Robert Raible
    Creative Director, Sears Integrated Marketing: Joe Michaelson
    Executive Producer, Sears Integrated Marketing: Jan Collins

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    London ad agency Johnny Fearless used an actual alligator in this new ad for Jeremiah Weed Brew, in which the beast plays an ordinary household pet—the kind of arrangement, much like the beverage itself, that's just inexplicable. "Working with an alligator was a challenge," says executive creative director Paul Domenet. "Their default setting is grumpy, and they either do nothing or are terrifying. Even the shoot seemed to fit into the whole 'Can't explain it, just enjoy it' nature of the brand. We came out with a great film and all our limbs." On the one hand, the concept here feels like something of a cop-out—brands should generally have a firmer grasp on what makes them worth buying. (The tagline here: "It's what it is.") On the other hand, alligator on a skateboard. You win this round, Jeremiah Weed. Via Hello You Creatives.

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    Daily-deal sites are a dime a dozen, but how many have their own holiday? RetailMeNot.com has invented OctoNovemCember, a magical time of year when Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus travels the Web to deliver daily deals during the holiday season. Like every good holiday figurehead, GSD&M created an amazing origin story for Pumpkin-Headed Turkey Claus, who was born when a turkey dropped a single feather in Santa's pumpkin patch. Now, the bird with a pumpkin head and Santa suit wanders around shouting "Gobble, gobble, ho!" and aggregating deals from other sites. Apart from a great deal, the appeal of Turkey Claus might also be a touch of frustration with the way retailers tend to lump all the holidays together the moment October starts, eager to get to the busiest buying season of the year. RetailMeNot's campaign allows them to cater to the same yearly impulse to buy! buy! buy! while simultaneously mocking the competition for the resulting holiday smashups. It's like having your pumpkin pie and eating it, too.


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